Some of my readers might be familiar with the GT Academy where Nissan and Sony give average guys the chance at a real racing career. It appears the GT Academy program might be a little too successful though as GT Academy winners have been deemed “too fast” for the British GT Championship (Pro-Am category).
Jann Mardenborough, the 2012 GT Academy winner, entered the British GT Championship alongside Alex Buncombe in the brand new Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. Jann was the amateur and Alex was the pro at that point. Even though Jann's racing experience was limited the racing duo worked hard and were close to winning the championship. “I have a lot of admiration for GT Academy,” said British GT Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici. “It has shown itself to be a great way to source raw talent and turn that into real racing talent as we saw in British GT last year with Jann Mardenborough. However Nissan’s ability to find such amazing raw talent means that we cannot accept their full season entry for British GT in 2013. Their new recruits have very little racing experience so they have to be on the lowest performance grade. Their talent, going on Jann’s speed last year, doesn’t reflect this lack of experience so it is not fair to put them up against our Pro/Gentleman grid, the basis of British GT3. Hats off to Nissan though and I should point out that there are no closed doors here.”
During the 2012 British GT season Jann Mardenborough was marked as being ‘too fast’ for his performance grading. Since Mardenborough didn’t meet any of the higher criteria the British GT organizers had no choice other than to apply a time penalty to allow other drivers to catch up. In his first season as a real racing driver Jann’s talent was recognized by the British Racing Driver’s Club who awarded him Rising Star status. Mardenborough was also awarded a place on the prestigious MSA Academy, run by the governing body of racing in the UK.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t put any of our new winners into the British GT Championship as it was a great learning experience for Jann. It’s also very flattering at the same time though. Being told you are too fast isn’t something that happens very often in any competitive sport.” said Nissan’s Global Motorsports Director Darren Cox. In 2013 four new winners of GT Academy came through the intensive GT Academy Driver Development Program; Wolfgang Reip (Belgium), Mark Shulzhitskiy (Russia), Peter Pyzera (Germany) and Steve Doherty (United States). it will be interesting to see what these new GT Academy drivers will be able to accomplish in 2013 out on racing circuits across the world.